Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
flickr imagy by Moyan_Brenn
If your school is exploring the use of eBooks in learning and teaching, and looking for an alternative platform thenkeep a close eye on ReadCloud.com.
ReadCloud, set up by Jeremy LeBard and Lars Lindstrom in 2009, is based in Melbourne
,. It provides software solutions for schools interested in providing digital books for students, offering a digital distribution mechanism for eBooks in a ring-fenced school-wide social community.
Using this platform, teachers can set up clouds for their classrooms and add eBooks which can be automatically synced to student devices. The platform is interactive - both teachers and students can annotate these eBooks and the annotations can be shared live as text, picture or video, offering students opportunities for both independent and participatory learning, and allowing them to build context around what they read.
Students are able to filter the annotations so that they see teacher notes, their study group notes or just their private notes. They can also access dictionary, encyclopaedia or reference databases from a learning toolbar simply by highlighting a text inside the eBook. ReadCloud also offers students the ability to post about their reading on Twitter and other social net-working sites as they move through the story.
Students can read either on or offline on computers, tablets or mobile devices (PC/Mac/Android/iPad/iPhone). EBooks currently owned by the school can be uploaded to the platform, and new titles can be purchased from the ReadCloud bookstore as PDF/ePubs and are yours to keep forever.
There is a yearly licence fee, which is roll-based but also dependent on your cloud storage requirements
Explore the site – I think it will offer real opportunities for schools moving into the third millennium and wanting to capitalise on their ultra-fast broadband connection.
If you have used ReadCloud share your experiences with us here.
By Peter Murgatroyd
The Select Committee inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy currently underway is a critical opportunity for the library profession in New Zealand to contribute to the shaping of the future of our schools and to highlight the significant contribution that the library profession and school libraries can make to enhance learner outcomes through the creation of dynamic future focused learning environments.
The preamble to the terms of reference for the inquiry defines ‘learning environments’ as both physical and virtual spaces:
“The term ‘learning environment’ suggests learning happens in a place and space such as a school, a classroom, or a library. However, while much of 21st century learning takes place in physical locations, in today’s technology driven world, a learning environment can also be virtual, online or remote. The purpose of this inquiry is to investigate and provide recommendations on the best structures, tools, and communities, in both rural and urban New Zealand, that could better enable students and educators to attain the knowledge and skills, such as digital literacy, that the 21st century demands of us all.”
The terms of reference for the inquiry include:
The 2012 Horizon Report highlights the paramount importance of critical information literacy and the need for our students to be able to make sense of and critically assess the credibility and value of information in an environment where information is everywhere. It also challenges schools to remove the institutional barriers that may impede progress on embracing new technologies and pedagogies. These themes are reflected in both the focus and urgency of the Inquiry.
The inquiry challenges us to reflect and redefine our understandings of the school library and the role of the school librarian within the context of a transformed information landscape, shifts in teaching pedagogy, and the necessity to ensure that our students acquire the knowledge and skills, such as digital literacy, that the 21st century demands.
Submissions can be made online via a web form on the Inquiry webpage .
Writing a submission for an inquiry is different from writing a submission on a bill. As there are no specific clauses to comment on, it is important that you use the terms of reference of the inquiry as a guide to presenting your views.
Submissions closing date 11 May 2012
By Rob F
What is the school experience like for Pasifika students in New Zealand schools?
Anne Siope’s article “The schooling experiences of Pasifika students”, in set 3, 2011, pp 10-16 (NZCER) illuminates some of the issues Pasifika students of her youth and the current generation face at school.
Autobiographical as well as research-based, this powerful article illustrates some themes common to many Pasifika students at school in New Zealand. An understanding of these can help library teams engage positively with Pasifika students and their worlds.
Pasifika children then and now are often caught between the obligation to parents who want them to succeed at school, and the fear of drawing unwelcome attention from classmates or teachers. Siope speaks of learning “the art of being invisible at school”, while trying to keep the family happy. The effect was “to train up our minds for learned helplessness.”
Library staff can take notice of these “invisible students” and engage them in reading using texts that are in their first language and culturally relevant, while exploring ways to link existing knowledge with new knowledge.
Pasifika students “can live in up to six or seven different worlds”- home, school, church, sports, other extracurricular activities, part-time employment, friends. Some try to keep their worlds as separate as possible, excluding their parents from their other lives. Siope writes that this “in many ways, sabotaged our futures by not allowing our parents to be a part of our siloed worlds.”
Engaging with students may help them build bridges between their different worlds.
“A responsive, readily available and reasonable adult” often enables success. For Siope that was a teacher who expected responsible behaviour and activities which avoided time-wasting. This tied in with Samoan traditions such as “restoring calm, righting wrongs and re-establishing filemu (peace, absence of contention)”.
Library staff can enable success by developing affirming relationships, which encourage maturity and responsibility.
While research shows that teachers are largely unaware of their beliefs, their perspectives about ethnicities and the cultural differences in their classrooms, students quickly sense teachers’ stereotypes of them. Educators need to be aware of how schools can become “white spaces” even when most students are not white. And where parents will assume the teacher is right, students “learn to ‘harden up’ our minds and thereby our hearts, because family is much more important than getting an education.”
There is a challenge for library staff to truly empathise with and understand the worlds of their students. Conversation, reading books and articles by Pasifika writers, viewing Tangata Pasifika, attending social and cultural events are all means to meet this challenge.
The world of church
For many Pasifika families, church provides a social network, community and aspirations. This has an impact on expectations for their children and limiting interaction with people outside the community. For school children church commitments occupy a lot of time.
Understanding these pressures and benefits of church related expectations will help library teams develop good relationships and support student learning. This includes providing accessible resources on faith, ethics and justice.
By Rob Finlay
Sometimes teachers and librarians feel they are alone in the challenge of teaching reading and creating readers. But schools are not alone: Pasifika students also learn to read in other contexts: at home, church and the neighbourhood.
The Ministry of Education urged teachers to be better informed of out-of-school literacy practices. Dr John G Dickie, School of Education Policy and Implementation, at Victoria took up the challenge. The result is his doctoral thesis, “An investigation of sites, uses and practices for literacy in the lives of Pasifika students”, 2008.
Cultural contexts for literacy are important. Dickie contrasts two disparate views of literacy, as social practice and as skills. This research focuses on literacy as social practice. We in education need to make effective links between school cultural contexts and other cultural contexts.
He explores four different settings- school, church, family and the neighbourhood- from the perspective of Year 7 and 8 Samoan students, supplied with cameras and journals, and interviewed along with adults. The strongest overlapping of values was between family and church where the use of Samoan language was valued. “The most common conflicts were those related to popular culture” where neighbourhood sites were at odds with the other three settings.
The insights into Samoan history and the experiences of Pasifika children in New Zealand are valuable. Until missionaries arrived Samoa was an oral society. Pastors’ schools and Sunday schools mixed the oral and written, with a strong focus on imitation, memorisation and performance- tauloto- in learning to read. These practices, as anyone who has attended a White Sunday (Lotu a Tamaiti) service will know, are retained in New Zealand. For teachers or librarians the main purpose of telling stories and reading aloud might be for pleasure or learning, but Pasifika may have different goals such as transmitting cultural values and faith, or developing oral language. An approach which respects Pasifika perspectives will be more effective in achieving the educational goals of the school.
Some implications of this research for school libraries are:
Bilingual education and texts bring together the experiences and values of home and school. Even if the school does not have bilingual classes, the library should have resources in Pacific languages. So hold on to those Tupu books and other resources in Pacific languages, display them face-out on shelves or in boxes labelled by language. Enlist the help of parents and older children to read them. Help make reading in Pacific languages acceptable for the children.
Use Home-School Partnerships to support literacy. Engaging families in reading over the summer holidays and joining programmes like Reading Together ™ are very useful activities which involve the library. Use the search term summer on this blog and Create Readers to read more about schools that encourage family summer reading contracts including one school that opens the school library in January.
Librarians significantly influence the literacy of Pasifika students: encourage Pasifika students to hang out in your school library, and make it a meeting place between parents and school. This allows students to engage in literacy and learning with your support. It enables you to share messages about reading. Recruit parents to read aloud in Pacific languages. Learn about the families’ perspectives and practices in reading and learning.
Help to develop a good relationship between students with the local public library, as a place where homework combines with after-school relaxation and socialisation.
School libraries which link with out-of school literacy experiences, provide resources for Pacific languages, and provide Pasifika cultural contexts are providing a great learning experience for their students.
By Rob Finlay
The “summer slump” or “slide” in literacy occurs when the gains made in literacy during the academic year are lost over the summer holidays. It is a particular problem for lower decile schools.
Many low-decile schools make a positive impact in student literacy over the course of a school year which is lost due to the lack of reading over long summer holidays. Clayton Park School in Manurewa tackled this issue by setting up a planned intervention which they monitored, measured and evaluated.
The approach was underpinned by a close analysis of literacy scores in successive Februaries and Novembers to establish a baseline, taking into account variance in months from expected age reading scores. For the study, the students were placed into three cohorts: “at-risk Māori”, “at-risk Pasifika” and “high-performing students”.
Deliberate interventions followed to improve teacher effectiveness. Existing Home-School Partnership meetings were used to keep parents informed. At the last meeting of the year the school set up summer reading contracts, goals and expectations with families as well as giving the parents strategies for helping children with their reading
The reading scores, both during the year and at the end of the summer holidays, were reviewed, and the strategy modified accordingly in an annual iterative process beginning in 2005.
The number of students who complete their contracts has grown over the six years the programme has been running has increased from 6 percent to 23 percent. For those students who complete the contracts, the results have been very gratifying, with an average gain of 5.7months in reading age over the summer break. Furthermore, as compared to students who fail to complete the contracts, these students have also experienced a year-on-year gain even greater than the national average annual reading gain. Conversely those who don’t complete their contracts slide backwards in their reading levels and do not experience a “catch-up” effect when they return to school.
The authors: Paul Wright, Principal at Clayton Park School and Dr Cathy Wright, researcher at Auckland University, conclude that the sustained practice of summer reading as part of a wider strategy leads to improved literacy gains.
For the full article :
Wright, Paul & Wright, Cathy. “An initiative to counter the “summer reading drop”: an iterative process”. Set 2, 2011, p 38-46, NZCER.
Heard about the online Literacy Project? This international initiative (supported by LitCam, Google, and UNESCO) aims to become a resource for teachers and pretty much anyone else with a personal or professional interest in education and reading.
The website gives links to Google books where you can search for preset terms like e-learning and reading education. There is also a section on literacy videos. For example, you can view videos about: literacy, literacy skills and read aloud techniques.
The site also lists some innovative literacy projects, from free online e-books that support struggling readers, to Get London Reading , where book lovers can find out more about their borough, or rather the books set there, and the writers who have made it famous (via Google Maps.)
There is even a Get London Reading app for your Iphone including augmented reality if your phone is 3G!
Now wouldn’t that be a great idea for New Zealand. Mix and mash anyone?
flickr image by jessica beck
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